(not satire – it’s the UK today!)
Oh the ignorance – and hypocrisy – is painful.
On the very same day satirists in France are killed in cold blood for exercising their right to free speech – including the right to use images which are offensive to many – self-righteous people over here, without any apparent irony, are spluttering in outrage at the use of images in satire which they themselves find offensive.
Because in the hypocritical UK, we seem to only support satire when it’s offending other people, but not when we ourselves are offended:
Truly supporting satire means supporting it even when we ourselves – or others we care about – find it offensive.
Not least because the best satire tends to be offensive.
Way back in 1729, Jonathan Swift wrote his brilliant satirical essay “A Modest Proposal” in which he proposed solving a famine in Ireland by persuading the poor to eat their own children.
In his essay, Swift even suggested recipes for the poor on the best way to cook their babies.
Swift’s essay is a perfect example of how the best satire often takes a serious subject and – using exaggeration, ridicule, irony, shock – tries to illustrate the truth of it:
The truth is – if you believe in free speech then you don’t get to pick and choose what satirists can or can’t say, write or draw, no matter how offensive you may yourself find it.
That’s the principle the cartoonists on Charlie Hebdo gave their lives for.
* I’m rather loath to explain a satirical point, because in my experience if someone needs it explaining they are most likely too stupid to ever understand it. But here goes anyway. The poster was not just a simplistic comparison between Tory policies and fascism. It was a satirical comment on the absurd claim by the Tories that they didn’t know it was a German road. Of course, if you didn’t recognise the iconic photograph of a German extermination camp – then the satirical point will be somewhat lost on you.
** And yes, I’m fully aware the road is in Poland. I’ve been there. But if you’re ignorant enough to think the road isn’t German, then you really really need to read this:
*** And if you think there is no connection between modern-day austerity policies in Europe and the rise of contemporary fascism, then you really really really need to read this:
**** Incidentally, most of the mainstream press (as usual) didn’t bother to credit me with the rather ironic fact that I was the one who spotted the road on the Tory poster was German in the first place (to blow my own trumpet).
***** The press also reported wrongly that I claimed I am of Polish descent. My great grandmother was an Austrian Jew who died in a German concentration camp. But this should have no bearing whatsoever on my right as a satirist to use any image I choose to use. And yes, I have visited the place in person in the photograph to pay my respects. Have you?
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The Coalition Government Colouring and Activity Book is now available for download as a PDF and in print: